Novos 38, Acklam 33 - A Win's A Win
By Magnus Leask
Great whole club day with four sides out, three at home. In addition, the U9's played a curtain raiser to the first team game.
The club's day started with Gareth Bowden's second team securing a narrow win over Newcastle Uni Freshers in the 1300 game. Some fine young players on display on both sides. The win was some what spoiled by the news Will Horlock has damaged ankle ligaments after a fine start at his new club.
Next the U9's were involved in a great session with Whitley Bay Rockcliff - loads of kids playing small sided matches on the first team pitch as a curtain raiser. Any spare players were off to the side in a skill area - credit to all those involved for organising a great rugby experience for the kids.
At 1500 it was the big boys turn as our 4's took on Ashington and the first team played a improving Acklam side, refreshed a week after their victory over Gateshead.
The rain had stayed away but the wind was blowing through by the time we kicked off. Acklam had the wind at their backs and took the initiative in early exchanges. They went through the middle of our back line but we scrambled well and actually turned the ball over. However, we kicked away the opportunity to counter which eventually led to Acklam's first score. Their kicker was slightly agitated as his tee never appeared however, he slotted a drop goal conversion to make it 7-0 to Acklam.
We finally gained possession and went at them playing round the corner which earned us a few off side penalties. We hammered away at their line until Old Novocastrian, Henry Wilson powered over after taking a short ball near a ruck. Conversion added by Shaun Stewart 7-7.
The match was to see saw all day and Acklam went back on attack but a poor pass saw us tackle the ball carrier and turn the ball over at the breakdown. The ball was mover to Adam McDonald who fed Jonny Ward with a Sonny Bill off load. Ward raced away to score under the posts for an easy Stewart conversion. Novos up 14-7.
The success at that breakdown perhaps led us to chase too many lost causes. We conceded two pens in a row for hands in the ruck which allowed Acklam to mach down field with little effort and they eventually went in to make it 14-14.
Next came our purple patch as we started to get control of the tempo and field position from some fine kicks by Richard Harrison. McDonald mad another great carry and was felled in a bad no arms tackle. The Acklam player was yellow carded and left his fellow forwards a man down. During this ten mins we scored two driven line out tries to Ben Merrett. Novos now up 24-14.
Our first half scoring was not over however as Sam Busby raced in to make the half time score 29-14.
With the wind at our back Harrison was pulling the strings and put in a couple of kicks driving Acklam back. However, these kicks perhaps created the next score as from our 22m he chipped the ball over the defensive line. Busby gathered up the ball and stepped Acklam's 15 to make it a two horse race to the line. Acklam's winger was unable to gain ground on Busby who dotted down near the posts for Stewart to convert. 36-14 to Novos and we looked in total control.
This was not the case as Acklam changed their tactics throwing the ball around like the were Fiji. We defended well and Sam Busby put in a big hit that Acklam reacted to. It looked like the game was going to continue but the ref then deemed it a tip tackle and yellow carded Busby. This galvanised Acklam and they ended the match with some amazing attacking play. They scored three wonderful tries all converted to make the score 38-33 with two mins to play.
Under the posts we finally found some composure - put the kick off into the far corner and eventually turned the ball over. We then kept the ball for the last 90 seconds with some precise carrying. The match ended with a penalty to us metres from the Acklam line. We tapped and kicked the ball out for the 38-33 win.
Thank you to Richard Gates - thought the two sides perhaps didn't listen to you sufficiently which resulted in the breakdown being a bit of a mess. Think we will see you in a couple of weeks when you are back to ref our ladies first team.
To Acklam - delighted that you did not play the first 60 like you played the last 20 ! Your rugby in the last quarter was a joy to watch and I am sure your coaches will wonder why you didn't play that way earlier. The last patch of play should give you the confidence to take on Westoe next Saturday.
Our lads - great to get a five point win and keep our unbeaten home record intact. Player of the Day award went to Rich Harrison and Richard of the Day to Luke Menzfeld. Back to training this week to see how we could've adapted quicker to Acklams play and look at the things we did well and must continue to do.
Great wins for our 2's and 4's along with a spirited display from our 3's against Morpeth 3's. Despite the wins it was all good news as Jake White and Iain Wood have sustained long term injuries in the 4's game.
The report finishes with our best wishes to the Whitley Bay Rockcliff U9's. We are delighted to say that our first team doubled up their fines and other club members also contributed to Rock4Olly. Rugby for all, rugby for life.
Up the Vos !